Training Neighborhood

On Friday, February 22nd, 2019 on a beautiful late-winter day, 9 ABC Carpentry Apprentices, under the guidance of their instructor, Gary Roehrig, installed custom-made, heavy-duty cabinets into two of the houses in the Gas Utility Construction Training Neighborhood on the Beaver Dam campus. The carpenter apprentices built the cabinets in the woodshop on the West Bend campus, where they attend school, as part of their Advanced Cabinetmaking course. This course was developed and is being taught by Mr. Roehrig, a long-time instructor for the apprenticeship at Moraine Park.

The partnership between the apprenticeship program and the Gas Utility Construction program began unwittingly two years ago when, as part of their formal instruction, the carpenter apprentices built six 8×12 foot ‘sheds’ to gain practice designing and building small wooden structures. The original intent of this effort was to sell the sheds to local business or homeowners for use as brat-fry stands or for personal use. During the same time, planning was well underway to create the new gas program on the Beaver Dam campus, when the idea arose to use the 6 sheds—now called ‘houses’—to form a training neighborhood that gas program students could use for their own training.

The idea took hold, and even expanded to include two additional houses that were configured to be able to store tools and small equipment, thus making a training neighborhood of 8 houses. In late April, 2018, the 8 houses were transported from the West Bend woodshop and placed on concrete pads at the Beaver Dam campus, in time for the new program to start in June. Business and industry partners who contributed to the gas program capital campaign had plaques attached to the sides of the houses in recognition of their generosity.

As this phase of the partnership was reaching its’ end, a collaborative idea between Steve Horvath, Associate Dean of Trades, and Gary Roehrig came up, which was to have this year’s carpenter apprentices build the cabinets for the 2 extra houses. The intent in installing the heavy-duty cabinets is that in the future, the gas program students and instructor will be able to store supplies and small equipment out ‘in the field’, where it will be handy to access, rather than have to go back into the main lab for what is needed. For their part, the carpenter apprentices gained valuable skills in designing and building top-quality cabinets from scratch.

When the task was completed in the early afternoon of Feb. 22nd, Associate Dean Horvath thanked the carpentry apprentices and their instructor, telling them they had accomplished a task that is much appreciated and one which will have a long-lasting positive impact on another program in the college.

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Written by Stephen Horvath